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Do spring cover crops rob water and so reduce wheat yields in the northern grain zone of eastern Australia?

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Whish, J.P.M., Price, L. and Castor, P.A. (2009) Do spring cover crops rob water and so reduce wheat yields in the northern grain zone of eastern Australia? Crop and Pasture Science, 60 (6). pp. 517-525. ISSN 1836-0947


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/CP08397


During the 14-month-long fallow that arises when moving from summer to winter crops, stubble breakdown can denude the soil surface and leave it vulnerable to erosion. Cover crops of millet have been proposed as a solution, but this then raises the question, how often is there sufficient water in the system to grow a cover crop without reducing the soil water reserves to the point of prejudicing the following wheat crop? An on-farm research approach was used to compare the traditional long fallow (TF) with a millet fallow (MF) in a total of 31 commercial paddocks over 3 years. Each treatment was simulated using the simulation-modelling framework (APSIM) to investigate the outcomes over a longer timeframe and to determine how often a millet fallow could be successfully included within the farming system.

The on-farm trials showed that early-sown millet cover crops removed before December had no effect on wheat yield, but this was not true of millet cover crops that were allowed to grow through to maturity. Long-term simulations estimated that a spring cover crop of millet would adversely affect wheat yields in only 2% of years if planted early and removed after 50% cover had been achieved.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:simulation modelling, fallow management
Subjects:Science > Statistics > Simulation modelling
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Methods and systems of culture. Cropping systems
Live Archive:21 Feb 2024 00:49
Last Modified:21 Feb 2024 00:49

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